It's been said that over the course of their lifetime, an individual holding a bachelor's degree will earn nearly six times more than his or her high-school diploma holding counterpart. With such telling statistics it's easy to see why over forty percent of adults over the age of 25 are returning to the classroom for a second shot at their degrees.
Non-traditional students are typically described as individuals who postpone college after graduating high-school. While their ages span the spectrum, what they generally have in common is that they've already had careers, families and usually some college history. What you wouldn't expect is that their ages put them at a clear disadvantage for qualifying and receiving private scholarships when judged against traditional students.
So how are these nontraditional students supposed to pay for their education?
On average non-traditional students get a larger portion of their financial assistance from federal programs because those financing options have no particular age restrictions. There are of course exclusions like the Academic Competitiveness Grant, called ACG for short which is not available for students who graduated before 2005. The reason for these is that once an individual reaches age 24 they're no longer considered dependent on their parents. Apart from that, all the other grants sponsored on a federal level are open to non-traditional students. Just to name a few, these include the federal Perkins loan and the Stafford Loan.
Do Non-Traditional Students File the FAFSA?
Every student intending to pursue a post-secondary education is advised to fill out a FAFSA in order for the institution to determine their financial aid necessity. Non-traditional students, however, should not be included in this group because the questions on the form are not designed to address their particular situation. Instead, they should consult the specific school's financial aid office for one-on-one consulting.
Other Forms of Financial Aid
Non-traditional students can receive other forms of financial assistance as well. Some of these include savings plans, employer assistance, and retraining grants. A savings plan, like the 529 college savings package, is an educational account which is to be used before the beneficiary turns 30 years old. On average, these are initially started by the parents of the individual attending school. Employer assistance is a little bit more common around the 30+ college crowd. This form of aid is made available by the employer in order to help the employee receive a higher education degree. Retraining grants are the last form we'll take a look at. The U.S government provides these grants to community colleges as a way to kick start programs and encourage adults to explore additional academic paths. As previously mentioned, also consult you school's financial aid office as they may have other alternatives in place that may better accommodate your needs.